Alden: Damage already done
(CNS): The leader of the opposition has joined a growing group of people who fear that the damage may already have been done to Cayman’s reputation over the proposed implementation of the payroll tax and general uncertainties surround the UDP government’s inability to balance the public books. In the wake of the latest discrepancy between a group of business leaders claiming the premier has withdrawn the proposed expat tax and the premier’s denial that it is off the table, PPM leader Alden McLaughlin said he hoped Wednesday evening’s meeting would provide some clarity over what has already proved to be a harmful proposition.
“The PPM has decided to postpone the protest meeting against the tax for this evening in light of the weekend’s events but I have grave concerns about the uncertainty between the business group’s statement and the premier’s own comments about whether or not the damaging payroll tax is still under consideration,” McLaughlin told CNS Monday.
The opposition leader said it was unbelievable that during the last year of the United Democratic Party’s administration it could not produce a budget.
“That can only be inattention and sheer incompetence on the part of the premier in his role as finance minister,” McLaughlin added. “We look forward to this evening’s meeting, where we hope some clarity will be brought to the matter and government will move swiftly to produce a credible budget. This whole situation has done immense harm to Cayman’s already damaged reputation and the longer the uncertainty prevails the more it will further harm not just the reputation but the economy as well.
The PPM leader said this position need never have arisen if the premier had begun to address the operational deficit problem from the start and listened to what the UK has been saying, as well as the local business community, and above all taken heed of the Miller-Shaw report and what it said was wrong with Cayman’s public finances.
“If he had listened, the economy wouldn’t be at this point,” McLaughlin said. “But he has persistently claimed that he is turning the economy around and produced pretend budgets for last three years and now, unfortunately, the chickens have come home to roost.”
Turning his attention to the latest news Monday morning that the premier had written an open letter to Bermuda's premier, Paula Cox, which had appeared in the Royal Gazette this morning, the opposition leader said he was astonished.
“I am quite frankly shocked and embarrassed that the premier of the Cayman Islands would write what is such a personal affront to the premier of another overseas territory and to compound it making it an open letter,” he said. “I am not sure what he is trying to achieve by creating ill will between the overseas territories but he needs to get beyond the point where he believes every comment and criticism is about him personally and then resort to insulting the source,” he added.
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